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A Compilation Of Examples For Using Excell In Solving Heat Transfer Problems

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2009 Annual Conference & Exposition


Austin, Texas

Publication Date

June 14, 2009

Start Date

June 14, 2009

End Date

June 17, 2009



Conference Session

Thermodynamics, Fluids, and Heat Transfer II

Tagged Division

Mechanical Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

14.17.1 - 14.17.42



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Paper Authors


Amir Karimi University of Texas, San Antonio

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Amir Karimi is a Professor of Mechanical Engineering and an Associate Dean of Undergraduate Studies at The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA). He received his Ph.D. degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Kentucky in 1982. His teaching and research interests are in thermal sciences. He has served as the Chair of Mechanical Engineering (1987 to 1992 and September 1998 to January of 2003), College of Engineering Associate Dean of Academic Affairs (Jan. 2003-April 2006), and the Associate Dean of Undergraduate Studies (April 2006-present). Dr. Karimi is a Fellow of ASME, senior member of AIAA, and holds membership in ASEE, ASHRAE, and Sigma Xi. He is the ASEE Campus Representative at UTSA, ASEE-GSW Section Campus Representative, and served as the Chair of ASEE Zone III (2005-07). He chaired the ASEE-GSW section during the 1996-97 academic year.

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

A Compilation of Examples for Using Excel for Solving Heat Transfer Problems


Excel spreadsheet available on most desktop or laptop computers can serve as an effective and inexpensive computational tool in a heat transfer course. This paper focuses on the application of “Solver” and “Goal Seek” functions of Excel in solving those heat transfer problems requiring iteration solution process. It provides a collection of examples demonstrating the application of Excel in solving heat transfer problems. Some of the examples have been previously presented at various conferences including regional meetings, but not all can be easily accessed. The paper is augmented with additional example to expand the range heat transfer problem areas previously presented. Therefore, one aim of the paper is to provide a choice for selection of examples for integration into a heat transfer course. Some of the examples provided in this paper can be easily integrated into an introductory undergraduate heat transfer course. Those examples employing higher level mathematical functions or numerical schemes can be used in an advanced undergraduate or an introductory graduate level heat transfer course. The procedures and examples presented in this paper were well received by undergraduate and graduate students enrolled in an introductory graduate level heat transfer course.


In an introductory undergraduate heat transfer course the coverage of topics includes introductions to basic modes of heat transfer, solutions of steady state and transient conduction problems, free and forced convection, and an exposure to radiation heat transfer. Analytical solutions are typically limited to one-dimensional steady-state heat conduction problems, one- dimensional transient conduction problem subject to simplest form of boundary condition, and evaluation of radiation view factors for objects displaying simple geometries. Solutions to heat convection problems are based on the empirical formulas provided in the textbooks. To demonstrate the application of heat transfer concepts, the course coverage typically includes one- dimensional heat conduction in fins of uniform cross-sectional area and the analysis of parallel or counter flow heat exchangers. Many of the more complex analytic solutions to heat transfer problems given in the textbooks1-15 are in forms of graphs or charts. A few examples include graphs for fin efficiencies, transient temperature distribution charts for heat transfer in slabs, cylinders, or spheres (Heisler Charts), heat exchanger correction factors, NTU-effectiveness charts, and radiation shape (view) factor charts. Many mechanical engineering programs also offer a more advanced general heat transfer course to serve advanced undergraduate or entry level graduate students. The duel level course provides a more in-dept coverage of the topics included in an undergraduate heat transfer course. Introductions to condensation and boiling heat transfer processes may also be included in dual level course coverage. Integration of computational tool in a heat transfer course is an effective way to aid students in solving more complex problems, especially those requiring an iterative trial and error approach.

Prior to the introduction of personal computers (PCs) in the early 1980’s, complex computer codes were needed for numerical solution of heat transfer problems. Access to mainframe

Karimi, A. (2009, June), A Compilation Of Examples For Using Excell In Solving Heat Transfer Problems Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--5775

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2009 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015